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Ex-POW's Family Accuses Army Of Double Standard on Benefit

Army Spec. Shoshana Johnson, held captive in Iraq, has been told she will receive a 30 percent disability benefit.

By Lee Hockstader
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 24, 2003; Page A03

AUSTIN, Oct. 23 -- Shot through both legs and held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days, Army Spec. Shoshana Johnson returned home in the spring to a difficult convalescence that lacked the media fury and official hype that attended her friend and comrade in arms, Jessica Lynch.

Depressed, scarred, haunted by the trauma of her captivity and at times unable to sleep, Johnson walks with a limp and has difficulty standing for long, according to her parents.

And now that Johnson is on the verge of her discharge from the Army, insult is being added to her injury, they say. While Lynch was discharged as a private first class in August with an 80 percent disability benefit, Johnson, set to leave in the coming days, learned last week that she will receive a 30 percent disability benefit from the Army for her injuries.

The difference, which amounts to $600 or $700 a month in payments, has infuriated Johnson and her family. They have enlisted Jesse L. Jackson's help to make their case to the news media, accusing the Army of a double standard, insensitivity and racism. Lynch is white; Johnson is black.

"Race clearly is a factor," said Jackson, who added that he will take up Johnson's cause with the White House, the Pentagon and members of Congress. "Here's a case of two women, same [unit], same war; everything about their service commitment and their risk is equal. . . . Yet there's an enormous contrast between how the military has handled these two cases."

Calls to the Army press office in Washington were not returned Thursday.

Claude Johnson, Shoshana Johnson's father and himself an Army veteran, said his family and Shoshana do not begrudge Lynch her celebrity or her disability payments. But he said he believes his daughter should also get what she is due. He noted that the Army owes her more than the 30 percent disability benefit, which he said would translate into 30 percent of her base monthly pay of about $1,500, or about $500.

"There is [a double standard]," Claude Johnson said in an interview. "I don't know for sure that it was the Pentagon. All I know for sure is that the news media paid a lot of attention to Jessica."

The parents said Shoshana Johnson -- who is 30, has a 3-year-old daughter, has been living at home and is continuing rehabilitation treatments for her legs -- will not speak publicly about the terms of her discharge. But they said she was stunned and angered when the Army informed her this past Friday of its decision on her disability.

Both parents stressed that their daughter's depression, which Claude Johnson characterized as post-traumatic stress disorder, should have qualified her for a better deal from the Army.

Shoshana Johnson's mother, Eunice, said in a separate interview that her daughter's "spirits are not too well most of the time."

She added: "She gets depressed. She doesn't sleep very well. Her mental state is not what it used to be, and after a day's work, she has to come home every day and take her shoes off and raise her legs. She has a lot of medical appointments."

Shoshana Johnson enlisted in the Army to become a cook, hoping to eventually return to civilian life as a chef, her family has said. About a year after her enlistment, she was sent to Iraq with the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, based at Fort Bliss, in El Paso. Like other members of the 507th, a rear-guard unit, she never expected to be close to fighting.

When the unit blundered into an ambush near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on March 23, 11 of its soldiers were killed. Six, including Lynch and Johnson, were taken prisoner. In a videotape taken shortly after their capture and subsequently released by the Iraqis, Johnson appeared terrified, her eyes darting back and forth among her captors.

Lynch was rescued on April 2. The others were released on April 13. While they were recovering together at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after the war, Johnson and Lynch became friendly. Johnson later visited Lynch at her home in West Virginia, according to Lynch's lawyer, Stephen Goodwin.

"Shoshana is certainly deserving of anything she's entitled to," Goodwin said. "She served her country just as admirably as anybody in that unit, including Jessica Lynch."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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[This message was edited by ricardomath on October 24, 2003 at 08:32 AM.]

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That is totally 'unfair'. I know people who retired with basketball injuries that recieved equal disability who haven't seen combat. I'd be going up the chain of command at the post and kicking down some damn doors. She can appeal this with VA or she can publish her commander's name, the post commander's name and embarass the hell out of the chain of command and the medical staff. She should also be recieving a medical discharge with full medical benefits for the rest of her life because these injuries were caused during war time. Man, things like this just tick me off. Mad
Kweli4Real, not just this administration, but also the Republican houses during the last Clinton Adminstration. Did you know that those nuts now in full control of D.C. tried to put all of the veterans whom they had promised full health care benefits to until they died on the military HMO Tricare. The Veterans' sued the feds and the feds offered them $10K and enrollment in Tricare Standard. By the way is a bad HMO considering what the veterans are supposed to get. They do not recieve the same priority as active duty and oftentimes cannot get appointments at military hospitals. The Feds gave them the shaft on this deal. brofrown

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
Yeah, I had read about that. What gets me is how Vets can get this kind of treatment when they have a cabinet-level representative in the administration (or at least they had one). But then again, this is the administration (and political environment) that didn't like the news from our intelligence network, so they create their own ... they don't like the outcome of an election, so they start recalls and re-districting ... they don't like news coming out in the press, so they create the Patriot Act and de-regulate the industry.

What next?
Ahh.. You Black people are always complaining. I will tell you the difference between the two. Jessica was part of a unit that was attacked by Iraqi Forces and Shoshona was uhhh ok.. she was part of a unit that was attacked too but Jessica was hurt during this attack and Shoshona was uhhhh ok she was hurt too but Jessica was held as a POW and Shoshona was uhhh ok she was held as a POW too but Jessica was rescued by the Military and Shoshona was uhhh ok she was too but Jessica is white and Shoshona is Black. See I told you I would tell you the difference between the two.

Now stop your complaining.
"We got to organize ourselves, We got to mobilize and there can't be no confusion in our collective solution, If not for ourselves, then for our kids, because we know who our enemy is!"

DPZ "for the hood"

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
LMBAO, Faheem.

NO FAHEEM!!! You have it mistaken. It wasn't Lynch's White skin that accounts for the difference in treatment, it was her blonde hair.

In the continuing effort to feed the sheep, uhm, provide the American public with fair and balanced reporting of our progress in this war against terrorist aggression, we had to pick someone to highlight. And, everybody knows that blonde hair looks better on camera than those Knaps Johnson was sporting. So, we picked Lynch. And, we couldn't have a sad ending, you know, letting her out with a mere 30% payment. The sheep would start to think, uhm, the public would be outraged.

So you see, her skin had nothing to do with our choice.

Sheesh, you people will never be happy. Always looking for race. bs
I understand after the elizabeth Smart story, there will be a docu-drama about how Rush is an innocent and unfairly persecuted victim of the war on drugs.

Could you just imagine the horror of having to volunteer to go to a rehab center on 20 acres abutting some mountains and a national park and less than 5 miles from one of the best public golf courses in the US? Oh the injustice of it all!
LOL! Y'all are really funny! Big Grin I found this version of this story where apparently the Army returned the call and gave their response to this situation. Eek Eek

Family Says Army Shortchanging Former POW
By CHRIS ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas - The father of former prisoner of war Shoshana Johnson on Friday accused the Army of shortchanging his daughter of disability benefits after she was offered a smaller paycheck than fellow POW Jessica Lynch.

"She is not getting what she deserves," Claude Johnson said.

Family members confirmed that Lynch, a private first class who was snatched from her Iraqi captors on April 1 in a rescue by Special Forces, is receiving an 80 percent disability. Johnson, a specialist who was released on April 13 with four other American POWs, has been offered 30 percent, Claude Johnson said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who consulted the Johnson family, said race was playing a part in Army's decision. Lynch is white; Johnson is black.

"There's a long history of blacks not receiving fair and adequate recognition in the military," said Jackson. "The first black female POW who survived is about to be discharged and suffers the trauma, the emotional injury and has a 3-year-old daughter to raise. She deserves more."

Army spokesman Maj. Steve Stover said Shoshana Johnson's payment can be appealed.

Stover said the two cases are different and race is not an issue.

Stover disputed reports that Lynch had been medically discharged this summer, even though she has been allowed to reach a $1 million book deal.

He said Lynch is on the Temporary Disability Retired List and has not technically been discharged. She will be reevaluated periodically and if recovered sufficiently, she could go back on active duty or request an official discharge.

Shoshana Johnson will be discharged soon.

"The disability compensation is based on each individual soldier's condition," Stover said.

Military officials said Lynch was hurt after her Humvee utility vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed into another vehicle. She suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries and it was four months before she could walk again.

Shoshana Johnson was shot in both ankles and was held by Iraqi captors for 22 days. She still periodically uses a walking cast, has a hard time staying on her feet for any period of time and is not sleeping well, her father said.

She was shown in an Iraqi video fearfully watching her captors as they peppered her and the other POWs with questions.

The disability and discharge status of the other former POWs was not immediately known.

Claude Johnson said Lynch and his daughter, who were both stationed at Fort Bliss near El Paso, have become friends.

In a statement released Friday by her attorney, Lynch said she was "disappointed for Shoshana."

"When she visited me in West Virginia last month, we discussed the extent of our injuries and the long road back to health, including a lifetime commitment to physical therapy and rehabilitation," Lynch said. "I support her efforts 100 percent and wish her a continued ... recovery."

Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
Do they really think that American people are ignorant and just can't add? Jessica Lynch got 80% disability benefit and a million dollar movie contract, she made out like a fat rat! This Major Stover better stop being a stooge because Jessica Lynch was indeed given a discharge, how else can she get the 80% disability if she's still in service! She can't work if she's that disabled! Duh.
Shoshanna Johnson should take this to the congressional court. And of course Lynch can say nice things about Shoshanna, she's got hers.
I just wanna puke over the 'dumb' play here by the Army because it's sickening.

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
There's a link in my first post here (page 2) from a debate over this on another forum. Let it be known that the poster I'm debating the most does not believe everything he hears from the Administration, at least when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

I have a question though?
How would you assess Lynch's and Johnson's injuries? Are Lynch's more extensive? Do her multiple fractures justify the disparity?

There's a world of difference between truth and facts.
Facts can obscure truth.
- Maya Angelou

I think that they should get 100% disability for right now, until there has been a further assessment on their injuries and at that time their injuries should be assessed again and pro-rated. But for the military to just summarily dismiss one at 30% and the other at 80% at this time is just wrong.
I would imagine that Shoshanna Johnson's injuries are more extensive for the following reasons: Shoshanna has a young daughter, (can you just imagine the psychological torture of having to worry about if you'll ever see your child again and her future), Shoshanna Johnson was shot in the ankles which will probably leave her with arthritis for the rest of her life, not just joint pain, but possibly severe arthritis. Jessica Lynch has amnesia, but for some reason everyone knows, including her, what happened. I'm confused. Jessica Lynch will have pain but I don't think from the reports that it will be for the rest of her life as severe as Shoshanna's are. Lynch is done with her therapy and Shoshanna Johnson is still in therapy and will be for some time.
Race and publicity do have a great part to play in these cases. The Army didn't want to look bad in front of the media, so they gave Lynch a largle disability. Everyone else can just go to hell in a handbasket. I'm glad the Urban League voiced their disapproval to the Army. Now would be a great time for Colin Powell to step in and use some of his pull to equalize this situation.

Urban Leagues calls for inquiry into and review of Spec. Johnson disability decision

NEW YORK -- National Urban League president and CEO Marc H. Morial today called upon the U.S. Army 's Acting Secretary, the Honorable Les Brownlee, to conduct an immediate inquiry into and review of the Army's decision to award Army Spec. Shoshana Johnson a 30 percent disability benefit for the injuries she received while a prisoner of war in Iraq.

In his letter to the Under Secretary, Mr. Morial notes that Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Spec. Johnson were captured at the same time in the same attack, and that Johnson was released a week later and is still recovering from gun shot wounds to both of her ankles. "Yet," the letter states, "Pfc. Lynch is receiving an 80 percent disability benefit compared to Spec. Johnson's 30 percent."
The letter continues, "Both Army Spec. Johnson and Pfc. Jessica Lynch are Americans who risked their lives in Iraq and suffered the indignity and horror of capture. Surely, the Army's commitment to fairness dictates equal treatment for both of these American heroes."

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
And more Yssys, the disability determination should be based on the effect the injuries have one a person's life plan. Johnson went into the service to get training so that she could pursue her life plan of becoming a chef. Her plan seemed on track when she was assigned to work as a cook. Even when she is "fully rehabiliated", her injuries will prevent her from standing for extended periods of time. This will no doubt limit her ability to pursue her life plan.

Yep, Colin should stand up, but that is not his role as Sec of State. Condi's position would be more on point. Hell, Bush should step up just because it's the right thing.
The cover of today's NY Daily News Reads as follows:
Her story in new book reveals the horror of captivity in Iraq

And I thought the old rape thing was played out...... Confused This is going to bring more fanatical nuts out of the woodworks screaming "They raped a white woman kill those Arab bastards!" I wonder if the same front-cover treatment would happen if Shoshana had been raped? Yet, Jessica claims she can't remember what happened to her during her time in captivity. Look I gotta get off this topic, I smell some propoganda. Mad AND IT STINKS!
You are right Yssys...
All that seems specious to me.

I'm trying to straighten out in my mind how it is that she made it to a hospital and, truth be told, none of her captors were there when she was "rescued" (sounds like a Columbusian concept like "discovered").

I guess what I really don't understand is what really were the sequence of events that
[1] Lead to or caused her vehicle crash/accident;
[2] What exactly happened immediately after the accident;
[3] Was she alone or traveling with Shoshana and the rest of her unit and what caused them to be separated if they were;
[4] If she was captured by Iraqis, what made them abandon her and not take her hostage like the others???? ???? ????? ?????? ?????

It just seems to convenient for her to make it to a hospital (perhaps I'm forgetting something) and basically whether raped or not be at not only a place where she could get treatment but a well defined location to be easily found.

There's a world of difference between truth and facts.
Facts can obscure truth.
- Maya Angelou

To me the biggest puzzle in the J Lynch matter is, with all the coverage she's receiving, why is the media completely devoid of any interviews with the other soldiers that were with Lynch?

I mean, look at the coverage of any tragedy - the media talks to any and everyone remotely connected to the incident. I have yet to see anything other than military press releases, uhm, I'm sorry, that's "embedded reports" that even mention Lynch's fellow soldiers.
I may be ahead of myself but I really believe it has something to do with getting paid while on active duty. There is a "loop hole" in the military law books that basically states that you would owe the military part of the royalties if you make a profit while on active duty. This applies to athletes as well as average joes but the circumstances vary.
I would have to do some serious research but I do believe that she was given a "discharge" so she could get paid. Reports have been written that state she is only discharged for now and if her conditions get better she would be bought back on active duty. I doubt that as well as there is also a "loop hole" that releases a person for the good of the military. The young brother and sister that won the lottery in Ga fall into this category. Basically it releases a person b/c if they do miss formation or decide not to show up for work what can you do to them? I'm sure with $80 something million they could hire a decent lawyer to drag things out and the military really doesn't go for that.
So either way "America's heroine" is making out like a fat rat.


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